Audience at a community forum held in November in Eastport where parents and teachers confronted Education Commissioner John King. (File photo: Micah Danney)

The task force appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to assess the Common Core standards and implementation in New York is recommending overhauling the Common Core system and adopting “new, locally driven” state standards, curriculum and tests.

“While the goals may have been noble, the implementation of the Common Core Standards and the rollout of associated curricula and tests in New York were rushed and improperly implemented,” the task force said in its report, released late this afternoon by the governor’s office.

“The result has been disruption and unneeded anxiety in our schools and for students, parents and educators,” the report said.

“It is time to right the ship.”

The task force reaffirmed the importance “first and foremost” of “adopting and maintaining high educational standards and rigorous performance measures to increase the competitive standing of, and therefore the opportunities for, all our students,” Common Core Task Force chairman Richard Parsons wrote in the introduction to the report.

The task force made 21 recommendations to the governor for next steps:

Establish New High Quality New York Standards

Recommendation 1: Adopt high quality New York education standards with input from local districts, educators, and parents through an open and transparent process.

Recommendation 2: Modify early grade standards so they are age-appropriate.

Recommendation 3: Ensure that standards accommodate flexibility that allows educators to meet the needs of unique student populations, including Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners.

Recommendation 4: Ensure standards do not lead to the narrowing of curriculum or diminish the love of reading and joy of learning.

Recommendation 5: Establish a transparent and open process by which New York standards are periodically reviewed by educators and content area experts.

Develop Better Curriculum Guidance and Resources

Recommendation 6: Ensure educators and local school districts have the flexibility to develop and tailor curriculum to the new standards.

Recommendation 7: Release updated and improved sample curriculum resources.

Recommendation 8: Launch a digital platform that enables teachers, including pre-service teachers, and teacher educators, to share resources with other teachers across the state.

Recommendation 9: Create ongoing professional development opportunities for teachers, teacher educators, and administrators on the revised State standards.

Significantly Reduce Testing Time and Preparation and Ensure Tests Fit Curriculum and Standards

Recommendation 10: Involve educators, parents, and other education stakeholders in the creation and periodic review of all State standards-aligned exams and other State assessments.

Recommendation 11: Gather student feedback on the quality of the new tests.

Recommendation 12: Provide ongoing transparency to parents, educators, and local districts on the quality and content of all tests, including, but not limited to publishing the test questions.

Recommendation 13: Reduce the number of days and shorten the duration for standards-aligned State standardized tests.

Recommendation 14: Provide teachers with the flexibility and support to use authentic formative assessments to measure student learning.

Recommendation 15: Undertake a formal review to determine whether to transition to untimed tests for existing and new State standardized tests aligned to the standards.

Recommendation 16: Provide flexibility for assessments of Students with Disabilities.

Recommendation 17: Protect and enforce testing accommodations for Students with Disabilities.

Recommendation 18: Explore alternative options to assess the most severely disabled students.

Recommendation 19: Prevent students from being mandated into Academic Intervention Services based on a single test.

Recommendation 20: Eliminate double testing for English Language Learners.

Recommendation 21: Until the new system is fully phased in, the results from assessments aligned to the current Common Core Standards, as well as the updated standards, shall only be advisory and not be used to evaluate the performance of individual teachers or students.

The task force was critical of the way New York adopted and implemented the Common Core Standards. It found:

• The State’s original process to adopt the more than 1,500 Common Core Standards failed to include meaningful input by educators and was not done in a sufficiently open and transparent manner.

• The Common Core Standards may not be age-appropriate in early grades including K-2.

• The Common Core Standards do not adequately address unique student populations, such as English Language Learners and Students with Disabilities.

• The Standards are too rigid and need to be adaptable with more local school district and educator input.

• There was not enough time for teachers to develop curriculum aligned to the Common Core because much of the sample curriculum resources were not available until after the Common Core Standards were already adopted in schools.

• The State-provided curriculum created by the State Education Department is complicated and difficult to use.

• There is widespread belief that the curriculum does not allow for local district input, lacks breadth, and is too one-size-fits-all.

• There was a lack of State Education Department transparency and of parent, educator, and other stakeholder engagement in the development of the Common Core-aligned tests by the corporation hired by SED.

• There are concerns that students are spending too much time preparing for and taking tests and that teachers were only “teaching to the test.”

• The Common Core tests do not properly account for Students with Disabilities and create unnecessary duplicative testing for English Language Learners.

“After listening to thousands of parents, educators and students, the task force has made important recommendations that include overhauling the Common Core, adopting new locally-designed high quality New York standards, and greatly reducing testing and testing anxiety for our students,” Cuomo said in the release.

“The Common Core was supposed to ensure all of our children had the education they needed to be college and career-ready – but it actually caused confusion and anxiety. That ends now,” Cuomo said. “Today, we will begin to transform our system into one that empowers parents, teachers and local districts and ensures high standards for all students,” he said.

The task force heard testimony from more than 200 pre-K-12 educators, parents, students, and academics and reviewed the more than 1,800 written comments submitted through the task force website. Altogether, over 2,100 individuals submitted commentary to the task force. The task force also received input from outside advisors and advocates in the areas of standards, curriculum, assessments, and unique student populations.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.